The Journey To Being A Professional Football Player Starts With Nutrition

Dana Ryan, Ph.D., MA, Director, Sport Performance and Education

As the director of sport performance and education at Herbalife Nutrition, I get the chance to work with professional athletes from around the world, including soccer teams, top triathletes and more. However, working with college athletes has a special meaning for me because I have a front-row seat to witness a dream come true.

Our partnership with ProActive Sports Performance began with one primary focus: to create a program of personalized nutrition and training for college athletes participating in the annual scouting Combine – a pivotal step toward playing professional football in America. The Combine is a test of a player’s mental and physical readiness, which includes being at the right weight and body composition.

So far, we have worked with more than 50 athletes training for the Combine, with the vast majority of them joining the top professional football teams in the country. This year alone, 10 players who worked with Herbalife Nutrition while training at ProActive were drafted by professional football teams across the country.

I believe an important step in achieving this moment begins with nutrition. Many athletes still are unaware of how important nutrition is and the positive impact it can have on their performance both on and off the field. That’s why my team and I developed a 4-step process to work with them:

  1. Getting to know an athlete, connecting and gaining their trust, setting goals
  2. Building a personalized nutrition and training plan for them
  3. Supporting them throughout the process and providing permanent motivation
  4. Achieving goals and setting next steps

This year I was particularly moved by Orlando Brown Jr.’s story. Orlando’s dad, Orlando Brown Sr. - also known as “Zeus” - was a professional football player for 13 years. When Orlando Jr. was 15, his father passed away due to undiagnosed complications of diabetes. It was then that he made a promise to himself and to his dad: to follow in his footsteps on and off the field.

Heading into college, Orlando Brown Jr. tipped the scale at more than 415 pounds. He lost weight at Oklahoma, but truly focused on it heading into the Combine. He engaged in an 8-week personalized nutrition plan with Herbalife Nutrition and a training program at ProActive where he lost almost 30 pounds* through hard work and commitment.

And while getting drafted by any team would have been exciting, it was his dad’s team former team that drafted him as offensive tackler. I am sure his father is proud of him, and he knows it.

Orlando is an astonishing example of how far discipline and inspiration can get you. Nutrition goals are often hard and require commitment, but the results are worth it. Eating right doesn’t just change your body, it changes your outlook; it becomes a lifestyle, a healthier and happier one.

As part of the team at Herbalife Nutrition, I couldn’t be prouder of being able to help these young athletes on their journey to fulfilling their goals.

To learn more about Proactive, please visit the sports and sponsorship landing page HERE.